Monday, March 6, 2017

Creating A Jeweled, A "Crystal" Birdhouse!

     I must admit that there is a different persona of art out here in the desert. I can remember the first time I saw a home that had one wall of all mirrors. Now we think, how 80's, and believe me they are too! In looking at a ruined condo in my complex I was told that those black dots on the walls were where 4' x 8' mirrors had once stood! The complex was built in 1983. Another friend here, who bought his condo fully furnished, built around the same time has a living room on the third floor that has a wall of mirrors from top to bottom. The first time I saw them, I saw myself letting little out a little shriek in surprise to find someone else there as well. That someone, of course, was me!
     While designers are always looking for ways to make a small room, home, condo look bigger, they once used mirrors. They also used popcorn ceilings but we won't get into that.
     There has always been a fascination with light in the desert. I can remember when my Mom moved to Albuquerque, NM from Portland, Oregon, I couldn't get over the light ... blinding in the summer sun yet still luminous in the shade. Gloom is the predominant color in Portland and it was startling to say the least.
     As a painter, I was again startled when one of the guys of my art group made, to me, relatively large paintings of interesting colors and shapes with jewels, some from Michael's and some with Swarovski crystal beads. They glittered in a way I had never seen before. He also sold them for prices I would never ask as well! I wanted to try it too!
The original birdhouse from Michael's
     I took a relatively plain, boring, wooden birdhouse and when painting it, gave it a solid base of color. Next he would make a watery glaze, paint the entire surface and then put drops of 90% alcohol at random, or in a pattern from a plastic bottle with a small tip he found at Harbor Freight. That's where I found mine too after having no luck at Big Lots or the Dollar Store. In fact they were sold in lots of three and you all know, there is always a use of these items in crafting!
First color and first coat
This shows the new mottled finish with
those drops of alcohol, the painted silver
ice and the placement of the crystals.
     I painted most of the birdhouse a light turquoise and created a glaze of purple to see what would happen. You had to do one side at a time but the alcohol would dry pretty quickly (he was using a flat surface canvas where I was using a three dimensional birdhouse) and I quickly found that each side had it's own persona. Luckily here in the desert it would dry pretty quickly so while doing my duty watching the gallery during one of our shows, this kept me busy. I didn't worry about neatness as the base would be painted and feet would be added later.
     Next I painted the roof and base a deep navy that seemed to work with the new base and glaze colors. I started putting the "crystals" I purchased from Michael's (those 40% off coupons come in very handy) using another find at Harbor Freight. They sell a pack of 4 tweezers all with different tips. I really like the pair that had an angled tip that grabbed those pesky jewels no matter how small or large. I laid a few of them on the roof but decided that it was better to use fine lines of silver paint (purple on the silver doorway) to make it look like strips of ice. When put on after the crystals were in place I ended up putting paint on them. Once that paint dried on both the roof and every side, I resumed with the crystals.
The huge white snowflake on both sides, one front the
other back seems to add a wonderful wintry look. 
     Since I am never happy with the bases of most birdhouses I buy, I decided that large round wooden beads painted silver added just the right touch. As you can see just that one addition gives character to the birdhouse. And since it is already rather distressed, the feet were made to look distressed as well.
     I wanted a wintry look ... fitting here since the days of 115º were finally over when I started it. In fact lovely balmy days in the 70's seemed downright cold! While it would be a perfect accent at Christmas I was aiming for a look that said winter and would complement Christmas but could be used as a decoration before and after.
     Then the real world got in the way. I purchased a condo, had to do major renovation to it, painted each and every room in it myself and while I got the studio set up this project just sat there about half done as I moved again trying to create order out of pure chaos.
Crystal birdhouse. You can see the mottling
of the glaze dropped with alcohol, the new
feet, the glitter and jewels added for effect.
   Putting those jewels on takes time, I mean LOTS of time. I never hit on a method faster than putting a few drops of super glue and then one by one, trusty tweezers in hand, lay those puppies on glue each dot. Then you wonder, how many is enough? I didn't want it covered in crystals, alá Liberace but I wanted it to sparkle in the light, any light conveying what I thought a birdhouse should look like in the wintry north covered with snow & ice.
     Come on folks, there is a reason so many snowbirds come to Palm Springs for the winter. Even on our worst days there isn't 4 feet of snow, blizzard conditions and sub zero temperatures! Hum, maybe I need to do one in yellows and golds with crystals that make you sweat just looking at it! Make those cold winter days up north all winter seem bearable!
     The final touch was again putting lines of super glue down and then putting glitter on top of it. I used a big bowl sprinkling each side after one of the others had dried. It adds more and yet a different sparkle that is appealing.
     Never be afraid of trying something new. I spoke to an artist at the La Quinta Art Festival (more in another blog) that did amazing things with a whole world of gathered and purchased materials ... beads, swap meet jewelry, vendors selling a wide variety of things. She used them in ways I had never seen before. So, when I came back, I decided to finish this after a round of slight antiquing and count it as my first completed project in 2017!

Thank you for reading my blog. I invite you to take the time to read earlier blogs where the emphasis here is to explore the ways art and design affects our daily lives ... and always have. Comments are always welcomed! Be sure to check my re-opened ETSY store ... KrugsStudio!

No comments:

Post a Comment